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FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, JAN. 24, 2017
BY BOB FRANKEN
Millions of American are disgusted with where their country is right now. They believe that the inauguration tradition, with all its heavily scripted high grandeur, installed a repulsive, hateful lowlife as president of the United States. For them, their hastily arranged Women’s March on Washington was awe-inspiring. Hundreds of thousands of people came to Washington to register their defiant disgust, and more than a million hit the streets worldwide, jamming up several cities.
Here in D.C., it obviously jammed all the circuits in the president’s brain. He tried to ignore the crowds and the fact that their protest was bigger than the piddly turnout of those who assembled for his swearing-in. But in the end, he went haywire about journalists he describes as “among the most dishonest human beings on earth” for reporting the obvious fact that the turnout for his inauguration festivities the day before stacked up poorly with previous inaugurations. That was ascertained by side-by-side photo comparisons. A variety of factors led to estimates that about a quarter-million attended his ceremonies. But he insisted that he’d drawn over a million and a half. As for the media who dared to report otherwise, he promised that “they’re going to pay a big price.” He was indulging his petulance, by the way, at CIA headquarters, speaking in front of the solemn wall memorializing the anonymous operatives who died in the line of duty.
Back at the White House, he unleashed his pugnacious press secretary Sean Spicer to accuse news organizations of intentionally lowballing. Spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway then astounded almost everyone by defending Spicer’s blatant fabrications. She came up with the outlandish term “alternative facts” to describe outright lies. Meanwhile, Spicer was threatening “to hold the press accountable” for daring to report alternatives to his “alternative facts.”
Outside on the streets, the massive turnout of individuals with all their different priorities had one stated common purpose: resistance. The universal theme was that the Trump administration must be stopped before its disruption of civilized decency can take root.
The crowds included a high percentage of male supporters, but this was put together and led by women. So, beyond just Trump, it was a dramatic repudiation of history’s tortured repression of females. A rallying cry that Hillary Clinton was not able to manage. Still, no matter how well-intentioned, many of us men still find old habits hard to break. We justifiably hear a lot these days about “mansplaining,” where a man seems to find it necessary to clarify what a woman has just said. Or what we think she said. It’s offensive, plain and simple. Condescension at its worst. I thought of it as Michael Moore was addressing the crowd, until Ashley Judd grabbed his microphone and began her passionate remarks.
Allow me some wordplay. I need to ask a few questions that instead need some ma’amsplaining:
Question No. 1: When you say “resist,” what do you mean? Is this just some one-off massive catharsis? Can it be sustained? If Trump follows through on some of his promises -- for instance, sending armed units to remove Mexicans, as Judd warned in her “Nasty” speech -- are you willing to physically prevent his forces from taking them away? Resistance can be dangerous.
Furthermore, while greater numbers of Americans marked their ballots for Hillary Clinton, millions voted for Trump. They can be expected to resist the resistance. What about the chance that this will turn violent? What about this mass outpouring? Can it be sustained, particularly if it drives Trump berserk and he makes life treacherous for his opponents?
The huge turnout at the Women’s March was a huge morale boost for all the Americans on the side of the divide that looks so bleak now that Donald Trump is president. Trump’s first Twitter reaction to the outpouring was a derisive “Why didn’t these people vote?” He has a point there. But now, they must show that they’ve learned that lesson, will they get involved to the extent necessary? If they don’t, they will have some real explaining to do.
© 2017 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.